Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sports Dynasties: Dominance & Permanence

Red Auerbach, Celtics Coach & 9-time NBA Champion

As the Heat enter their 4th NBA Finals in as many years, we must first take a minute to bask in the ambiance, understand the greatness of what we are experiencing at the moment. The last team to reach the finals four consecutive years was the Boston Celtics (1984-'87). For a city that has never experienced such consistent success, it is hard for their constituents to comprehend the gravity of their team's accomplishments, and unfortunately situations like this still occur. This is a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity, just ask those old Chicago Bulls fans. Only 4 times in the history of the NBA has a team achieved this feat, and we should not expect it to happen again in this city anytime soon.

This Miami Heat are on the verge of transcending the teams of their era and challenging some of the best teams in history. Approaching what we like to call a dynasty. However, I believe we throw this word around too lightly, so I say: What is a dynasty, and are the Miami Heat worthy of such a title?


A sports dynasty, first and foremost, is a team that excels at all forms of the game, and dominates the competition. Moses Malone famously said, "Fo, fo, fo" when asked how his Philadelphia 76ers would fare in the 1983 NBA Playoffs. They went on to go fo, fi, fo and win the championship with a  12-1 playoff record. Dominance is just not just being better your opponents, but making them believe that there is nothing that they could do to defeat you. Demoralizing them. Creating a sense of helplessness. The '96 Chicago Bulls achieved a 72-10 record, one that stands today as the greatest regular season mark in NBA History. From '03-'04, Tom Brady's New England Patriots won 21 consecutive regular season and playoff games. Last year, the Miami Heat won 27 consecutive games, the 2nd longest streak in league history. In addition to the team's accolades, LeBron James himself has won 4 of the NBA's past 6 Most Valuable Player Awards, and a bit more obscure was his run of games shooting over 60 percent from the field while scoring 30+ points. Dominant: Check.


The second part of that statement, is that a dynasty must dominate their league for an extraordinary length of time, creating a feeling of permanence in the hearts of their opponents. Throughout the history of sports, there have been a number of famous dynasties: Joe DiMaggio's New York Yankees won 9 World Series Titles between 1936-'51, Bill Russell's Boston Celtics won 11 NBA Finals between 1957-'69, John Wooden's UCLA Bruins won 10 NCAA Tournament Championships between 1964-'75, and Joe Montana's San Francisco 49ers won 4 Super Bowls between 1981-'89 to name a few. The permanence those teams accrued over the course of their respective decades and the following years propelled them to a status far beyond that of the average champion: Legen -wait for it- dary. Legendary. The Miami Heat have had a good run so far, but 2 titles does not amount to anything out of the ordinary. They must continue to succeed at the same pace for the next 3-5 years in order to be considered a dynasty.


Although what the Miami Heat have done so far is impressive, we must realize that this is basketball, and they have not done anything that has not been done before in their sport, or frankly, anything that does not occur every 5-10 years. In order to be considered a dynasty, your product must be the stuff of legends, meaning your success must be extrapolated over long periods of time. First things first, the finals start this week and they will need to take care of business. However, when it is all said and done, it will be hard to consider the Heat a dynasty if their success does not stretch beyond the average 5 year run of success. Keep in mind, LeBron James came to the NBA straight out of high school, so even though he has been in the NBA for 11 years, he is still only 29 years of age. For a player with his size, skill, athleticism, and durability, there is no telling how many more years he can continue his producing at such a high level.


While reading this post, be sure to get mentally prepared for the 2014 NBA Finals, as it is sure to be epic. What better way to get ready for the first NBA finals rematch since '97-98 than to watch highlights from last season? Remember, the finals are unlike any other series: LeBron James is bound to lose his headband, Danny Green will be unconscious from behind the 3-point line, and at some point or another, you will surely ask yourself if Boris Diaw is the best player on the floor.

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